Iowa DNR emergency order prevents C6-Zero from operating, claims water sources are contaminated

MARENGO, Iowa (KCRG) – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources issued an emergency order halting C6-Zero’s operations in the state of Iowa after its Marengo plant exploded, injuring more than ten people. In the past week.

The order says the facility is “a clear threat to public health and the environment” and another “catastrophic event” is possible because the department does not know what chemicals and flammable gases remain inside the damaged building.

This emergency order also said that large pools of contaminated water are flowing into Iowa groundwater and the Iowa River, which the report says is a source of water for Iowa City and other municipalities. He also said that the state tried to regulate the facility several times in the past two years, including days before the explosion.

According to C6-Zero, the company has the ability to convert used roof tiles into oil, fiberglass and sand. The company said it creates oil by dipping the tile into a solution instead of putting it in a machine. According to this report, a C6 Zero employee told the Iowa DNR that he expected to process 800 tons of shingles per day with a storage capacity of 2,400 tons of shingles.

The report also said that almost half of the employees inside the C6-Zero plant in Marengo were injured in the blast. He said the injuries included severe burns, other trauma, and that two people remain in the burn unit at the University of Iowa. The report says one of those people is intubated and on a ventilator.

A GoFundMe page it was created for one of the workers injured in the explosion named Cody Blasberg. According to the page’s organizer, he suffered severe burns and was intubated and put on a ventilator about seven days ago. Blasberg, according to the page, has a daughter and hopes to become the father of twins in February.

According to this report, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said that C6-Zero and Howard Brand, the company’s co-founder, failed to comply with Iowa laws and regulations related to hazardous conditions, water quality, solid waste, and legitimate Iowa laws. recycling. He also said that the company is responsible for covering the costs resulting from the explosion and fire.

“In addition, the explosion and fire have resulted in violations of Iowa’s hazardous conditions and water quality regulations,” the order says. “Pursuant to those regulations, the DNR has determined that C6-Zero and Howard Brand are the responsible parties for any and all remedial costs resulting from the explosion and fire.”

Marengo Police Chief Brian Gray said the fire department filed a claim with C6-Zero’s insurance to pay for cleaning up the oil stains while the fire is being fought. which could cost the city around $80,000.

The order requires the immediate stabilization of hazardous conditions and the removal of all solid waste at the site. It also notes that the department has the ability to issue tickets for violations ranging from $1,000 per day to $10,000 per day.

Regulators in two different states found the company’s founder, Howard Brand, previously violated state laws regarding solid waste regulations. According to the documents, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality fined Brand $27,500 in 2017 because he did not receive permission from the state agency to dispose of used asphalt shingles for roofing under a different company.

About two years later, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Brand along with another man violated the state’s Solid Waste Facilities and Disposal Sites Act and regulations related to solid waste facilities and sites. It’s unclear if the company, which was called Brand Technologies, was penalized for having non-recyclable material such as 1,300 tons of scrap asphalt shingles and other roofing debris on the ground.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said it learned of issues related to Brand and his companies from regulatory agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the Texas Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Public Health. and Environment of Colorado as early as May 2021. The report then details a list of actions the department took to regulate the facility for a period of more than a year.

Those actions included telephone conversations with employees, visits to the C6-Zero plant, multiple meetings, and multiple requests for information.

According to this report, the company did not allow DNR personnel to enter and inspect the facility multiple times to check for asphalt shingles, such as roof shingles, on the facility. This meant that DNR could only see the exterior of the building rather than the interior.

Logan Homer, who said he worked for C6-Zero Employee and received a paycheck from the company cited in the Colorado complaint, said C6-Zero instructed employees not to discuss processes within the plant and not would allow them to take pictures inside. installation. He also said the plant continually had chemical leaks, puddles of diesel oil on the plant floor, and fires every other day.

A C6-Zero spokesperson said Homer’s categorization of his plant is categorically false in a written statement.

According to city officials, the city of Marengo learned that C6-Zero was using chemicals after a fire in October. More than a month later, officials said they still did not know about the chemicals used in the building because the company failed to submit a required form called Level Two. The Department of Natural Resources said it continually asked the company to fill out the form and inspect the “back end” of the facility’s operation after being denied, up to three days before the explosion. This report explains that the department continually wanted to see the entire facility, but was denied.

Brand has consistently criticized regulators, saying they created “false truths” around the process in online blog postswhich have since been removed.

“Regulatory agencies don’t always understand new technologies,” he wrote. “Not understanding is human nature and assuming the worst is unfortunately another human trait as well.”

A C6 Zero spokesperson said the company has already complied with several sections of the order and will remain closed in a written statement. He wrote that the company believes it is exempt from air permits and sent a document explaining why it is exempt to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“As the C6-Zero continued to move from a pilot phase to a production phase, the company was working with IDNR on regular testing to ensure that the C6-Zero continued to meet the requirements for the exemption, including two industrial air filters from carbon at the Marengo facilities. to ensure adequate air quality,” a C6-Zero spokesperson wrote. “IDNR saw these units during their tour in November.”

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said it was not allowed to view the completed facility and did not make a final determination on environmental requirements because C6-Zero did not provide all the information needed to complete the review.

Tammie Krausman, who is a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said in an email that no final determination on environmental requirements was made because the facility did not provide all the information needed to complete the review.

“C6Zero determined for itself that they are exempt from air quality permits and that they met all air quality requirements,” said Tammie Krausman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said in this warrant that it found multiple large, ankle-deep puddles of unknown free product and/or contaminated water with a dark color and oily sheen, parts of the roof and wall missing, large piles of loose crushed shingles , at least two very large chemical tanks containing flammable products, large tracts of black-stained grass and dirt, and large quantities of unknown chemicals in buckets, barrels, and gasoline tanks.

TV9 asked a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources some follow-up questions about the report on Friday afternoon and received no response until publication.

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